27 June 2005

Nelson fights offshore oil drilling

Following a flip-flop earlier this year by his senate colleague, Republican Senator Mel Martinez, who voted for an expansion of oil drilling and weakened the ban on drilling off the Florida Gulf Coast, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is now taking his fight directly to the people of the Sunshine State.

On his senate web site, Nelson allows Florida citizens to sign an online petition that sends a clear message to the federal government and the Bush administration that Floridians "don't want big oil companies setting up rigs or using seismic explosions off Florida's coast."

Nelson, a former astronaut, congressman, and state insurance commissioner, has been a leading critic of the Bush administration's goal of increased oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. While Martinez has changed his position and says that he now opposes oil drilling off Florida's coast, Nelson has been consistent in his opposition.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mel Martinez has become such a disappointment. One day he believes one thing, then he gets a call from the White House and his position takes a 180 degree turn.

Scott Maxwell from the Orlando Sentinel wrote a great piece showing how Mel is a total flip-flopper, and apparently not very smart either. Check it out:


Follow the bouncing ball -- Martinez talks

Scott Maxwell

June 26, 2005

The recent press release from U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez's office seemed to support the notion that Martinez is no longer responsible for the words that come from his mouth.

In trying to make the case that the conditions at Guantánamo Bay weren't really all that bad, Martinez's office quoted him as saying: "I've been there, and as the former Commissioner of Orange County, I can tell you firsthand that the conditions at Guantánamo are better than those at the Orange County Jail."

It's strange that Martinez would say he used to be "the former Commissioner of Orange County."

Because he wasn't.

He was the chairman.

Now the title is mayor.

It was never "commissioner." And, in the past, Martinez has spent a lot of time correcting other people who got it wrong.

Now the mistake certainly wasn't life-or-death. And Melissa Shuffield, a genuine and capable staffer who hasn't been involved in Martinez's earlier staff flubs (the memo that talked about the political benefits of Terri Schiavo and calling Bill McCollum "the new darling of homosexual extremists"), explained that she simply made a mistake. She pointed to Martinez's remarks on the Senate floor, where he correctly named his former position.

Still, trying to figure out what Martinez is saying can be as confusing as figuring out his former title.

Two weeks ago, after all, Martinez went out on a limb. As worldwide pressure mounted on the United States to do something about the facility at Guantánamo Bay -- where some prisoners have been kept for years without being charged with a crime and where accusations of human-rights violations have mounted -- Martinez raised the specter of closing it down.

His suggestion wasn't rash. Or even concrete. Martinez merely wondered aloud if there weren't a way "this can be done a little better." And he asked: "How much good do you get out of having a facility there?"

Still, it was the shot heard 'round the Beltway.

Vice President Dick Cheney was asked to respond to Martinez's remarks. A Fox News pundit compared Martinez to former President Jimmy Carter. A Miami Herald headline proclaimed: "Senator Martinez Displayed a Rare Independent Streak."

That had to be stopped.

So, a few days later, Martinez gave his speech on the Senate floor and sent out the release. It was headlined: "MARTINEZ: PEOPLE DETAINED AT GUANTANAMO BAY ARE WELL-TREATED."

That line didn't sound much like this one he had said the week before: "It's not very American, by the way, to be holding people indefinitely."

No, the speech was filled with platitudes about Guantánamo Bay and the military personnel who work there. And when he spoke on the Senate floor, while he briefly questioned Gitmo's impact on diplomacy, talk of shuttering the facility was gone.

So the heavy burden of explaining these positions falls on the shoulders of those like Shuffield, who concluded: "The Senator has been consistent. He stands by his original statements and has elaborated."

8:09:00 PM  
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